WP67 Repertoires revisited: ‘Knowing language’ in superdiversity

Blommaert & Backus


Repertoire belongs to the core vocabulary of sociolinguistics, yet very little fundamental reflection has been done on the nature and structure ofrepertoires. In early definitions, repertoires was seen as a triad of language resources, knowledge of language (?competence?) and a community. Due to developments in the study of language competence and in the study of social organization, this triad can no longer remain intact. In a super-diversity context, mobile subjects engage with a broad variety of groups, networks and communities, and their language resources are consequently learned through a wide variety of trajectories, tactics and technologies, ranging from fully formal language learning to entirely informal ?encounters? with language. These different learning modes lead to very different degrees of knowledge of language, from very elaborate structural and pragmatic knowledge to elementary ?recognizing? languages, whereby all of these resources in a repertoire are functionally distributed in a patchwork of competences and skills. The origins of repertoires are biographical, and repertoires can in effect be seen as ?indexical biographies?. This, then, allows us to reorient the triad of repertoires away from communities towards subjectivities, and suggest that repertoire analysis can be a privileged road into understanding Late-Modern, superdiverse subjectivities.